More details of the group of Liverpool supporters looking to launch a takeover of the club using a continental-style ownership scheme have been revealed, with further details to be announced this evening at a 5pm meeting.
Reds fans are up in arms at a string of poor decisions and broken promises by the current owners which have certainly set the club back rather than move it forward, and look set to get worse season by season before there is any chance of them getting better. A £350m loan used in the main to pay for their own purchase of the club is one of the main issues for fans at the moment, the club having to find £30m every year now just to pay the interest off. And the owners, Tom Hicks and the long-lost George Gillett, plan to borrow at least another £250m.
Now a group calling itself the Share Liverpool FC Group has come with an idea where they envisage 100,000 supporters from the world over all clubbing together and buying the club out of the Hicks-Gillett mess.
Their idea is along the lines of clubs in Europe, like Barcelona, where the supporters own the club and get to vote on certain issues, especially the hierarchy at the club. They say that they hope to raise £500m and use that to both buy out the owners and build the new stadium.
The names of those at the head of the scheme were revealed last night: Rogan Taylor – a lecturer in football business at Liverpool University, Phil French – a former director of communications at the Premier League and Kevin Jacquiss – a lawyer with experience in launching similar types of company ownerships.
Taylor spoke to the BBC last night: “The time is right to offer a different solution to the rising concerns that football fans have about the patterns of ownership developing at our major football clubs,” he said. “Thousands of Liverpool fans have already demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs. Large amounts of debt often devolves onto clubs newly purchased, but the fans know that in the end, it will be they themselves who will have to pay it off through increased ticket prices and other schemes. In such a case, why not simply buy the club yourselves?”
Taylor claims it’s a successful model for clubs: “The Champions League has been won on six occasions in the last 15 years by clubs owned and run in such a way.”
Early responses to the idea from supporters have been unsurprisingly very positive. Unfortunately the indicated price – not stated by the organisers but suggested by the mention of 100,000 supporters raising £500m – might be out of reach for most fans. But with a fan base of multi-millions the world over there should, in theory, be enough fans to see the scheme at least succeed in raising the money. That’s not the only hurdle of course; the owners have to be willing to sell rather than stubbornly stay on and pillage the club.
A website has been set up – www.shareliverpoolfc.com – but it currently says that it won’t feature further details until 5pm this evening.